24 Oct 2022

Season 2 Ep 6: Native Land Court

From The Aotearoa History Show, 5:00 am on 24 October 2022

Large chunks of land changed hands through the Native Land Court; or as it was also known: Te Kooti Tango Whenua - The Land Taking Court. Created by the 1862 Native Lands Act, the court was meant to establish individual land ownership under the new British colonial government. In practice it began a process of land alienation for Maori that continued until the 1990s.

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This episode we discuss:

  • The right of preemption and the large crown land purchases in the 1840s and 50s.

  • How these purchases contributed to increasing Māori opposition to land sales.

  • How Māori opposition to land sales contributed to the New Zealand Wars.

  • The different ways Māori and Pākehā thought about land.

  • How and why the court was first established. 

  • The racist attitudes of some judges and officials.

  • The impact of the “1840 rule” and the “10-owners rule”, including the sale of the Heretaunga block.

  • How debt was used to ensnare Māori in the court. 

  • The negative impacts of attending court on Māori.

  • How Māori attempted to reform or remove the court in the 19th century, including the efforts of the Kotahitanga movement. 

  • The efforts of Māori MPs to slow down the loss of Māori land in the early 20th Century. 

  • The 1965 Māori Affairs Amendment Act and how it acted as a catalyst for protest movements.

  • How those movements achieved reforms, including Te Ture Whenua Māori Act.

  • The ongoing impacts of the Native Land Court and attempts to address injustices.  

For more on this subject:

  • Te Kooti Tango Whenua by David Williams
  • Illustrated History of New Zealand by Judith Binney
  • Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou: Struggle Without End by Ranginui Walker
  • Conquest by Contract: Wealth Transfer and Land Market Structure in Colonial New Zealand by Stuart Banner, Law & Society Review https://doi.org/10.2307/3115116

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